Recap #CrimeChat Sept 16, 2013. Today’s #CrimeChat was about real CSI. Retrieving DNA from certain surfaces can be done by swabbing and taping but those methods may not work 100% on porous surfaces, brick, concrete or, wet surfaces.
The solution they use penetrates into fabric or into a brick/rock but not more than about one centimeter. Then, the vacuum is set into motion, the fluids retrieved, and separated in the lab. The amounts to retrieve are unlimited. If the first collection bottle is filled you can put another one on the system and keep going.
The M-Vac was invented by Dr Bruce Bradley, a microbiologist who ran a small service lab in Southern Idaho. Bruce was Jared’s father. Bruce passed away in 2009.
The beauty of this system is that it can be used to help advance cold cases. However, it can also test pre-conviction evidence in wrongful conviction cases and help address miscarriages of justice.
I asked Jared what kind of surfaces can be vacuumed. He said any surface, including stainless steel, plastic, rough masonite, carpet, floor tiles, product surfaces, fabric, animal hides, vegetable and meat surfaces, and many others. It can scan meat for e-coli and fruit for salmonella!
David Swinson wanted to know what primary agencies were using the M-Vac System. Jared said that amongst others police in the Salt Lake area have the system. Also, South Africa Police Services is using the system, but others – Mexico, UK, China, Russia etc – have distributors in the region so they will have access to it soon but have not officially started using it yet.
The costs of the device are about $15000 and then the costs ranges from $55-85 per sample. It is a portable system of about 65 lbs but it can be pulled around like a suitcase.
Jared explained that there is a university looking into DNA recovery from firearms and ammunition. I asked what the possibilities were for gun oil and residue in forensic arson detection cases. Jared thought that was interesting! As long as the evidence is not affected by being suspended in solution it just might work! He called it a good opportunity for research so if you see the M-Vac in arson detection cases … you heard it here first!
The latest in DNA recovery is not just of interest for law enforcement but also for authors! Use it in your mystery books. Exonerate a prisoners whose pre-conviction evidence was treated with the M-Vac. Now that I think about it, would love to use the M-Vac on Eunice Edwards-Zeigler‘s coat to find out whose blood was dripped on her jacket lapels. But I do not think that this would ever be possible. That case is from 1975 and what was once there might have deteriorated beyond testing. Maybe not in the Zeigler case but this is something to watch for and use in other cases.
MSI’s website is here. Jared will answer any questions you may have. just leave them in the comment box and I will let him know.